Why do orientation programs fail?

An orientation program is one of the best devised programs an organization can have. Orientation, as the term suggests, is all about “orienting” or “directing” the employee towards the organization’s attitudes and style of functioning. The style of functioning, or the “artifacts” of the organization as Edgar Schein states, is an often overlooked, but extremely important element of an organization.

Like individuals, each organization is unique. Each has its own idiosyncrasies and set behaviors. An orientation program is meant to condition the employee towards these. If the employee has to be a fit into the organization, it is not just about having the right skills and experience. Suitability to the job is one thing; suitability to the organization is another. Making the employee attuned to the organizational culture is what an orientation program is all about.

Why do they fail?

If the intention of an employee orientation program is so noble, why does if fail at times? There are a few fundamental reasons for which orientation programs fail:

Lack of transparency: many HR managers or those in charge of the orientation program sometimes don’t tell the entire truth about the organizational ethos to the new employee. The new employee’s mind can be likened to a plain paper. Whatever is imparted at the orientation program is the script that gets written on this paper.

So, the orientation program is the definer of the organization to the employee. If at this session, the HR doesn’t convey fully what the organization is about and what its values are and what expectations it has from the employee and what the employee can expect from it; it tends to inculcate a negative impression about the organization in the employee’s mind. Sincerity and solidity of purpose is of utmost importance in the orientation program. Any HR professional who fails to do this has contributed to the potential loss of an employee to the organization.

Lack of understanding of requirements: this is another of the important reasons for which an employee orientation program can fail. HR’s primary duty is in assessing the skill or qualification or experience of the candidate in relation to the job requirements. If it has not made the right assessment, it ends up giving an incomplete or false picture to the employee.

Not treating the employee well: obviously, in addition to a fat pay package, one of the most essential human needs is to feel wanted and recognized. The orientation program is a useful first step to make the employee feel at home. When HR is aloof or arrogant at the orientation program, it is sure to make the employee gain a bad first impression about the organization.

Reference:

http://managehrnetwork.blogspot.in/2008/09/failure-of-orientation-program.html

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Why conduct career development programs?

Career development programs are a great way to move up along the career ladder by upgrading one’s skills. When conducted properly, they can go a long way in helping the staff advance in their career path. Career development programs are a means to ensuring that employees at various grades get the necessary skills that are needed for going up further.

Why are they needed?

One central question many people may be tempted into asking is this: if employees are in need of training, why were they selected in the first place? Isn’t an employee selected for the skills she possesses? The answer is to be found in the fact that a candidate may have most of the skills and experience needed for being in the job, but may lack that one vital skill that is going to make her more competent for the job. It is like being 90 percent qualified or skilled; the last 10 percent is fulfilled by the training program. This is the importance of career development programs.

What kinds of programs are needed?

Career development programs are generally focused on giving that finishing or final touch to the employee. The employees could carry closely related skills, but may lack in that one pinpointed aspect that is needed for finessing and refining the skillset. Let us assume some advances take place in the industry or some development or regulation requires adaption of new guidelines into the working area. This is where specialized career development programs help, because they are focused to the point and are tailored to help employees understand that one cog lacking in the wheel.

Parallel skills

Conversely, candidates could also be in need of a few skills that may not form essential part of the job, but could be good add-ons to have in order to improve their working life. A good example of this kind of training is English courses for nonnative speakers. With the prevalence of English becoming stronger with the advent of globalization, many organizations could train up their employees with something like conversational or written English. This type of career development program is aimed at supplementing their profile and making it easy for them to move into the mainstream. Many a time, putting technical or creative skills into better use could be getting inhibited because of lack of supplemental skills. A career development program that is well planned and structured could accomplish the goal of closing this gap.

Reference:

http://www.explorehr.org/articles/Career_Management/Career_Development_Program.html

 

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What does a Human Resource Development Manager do?

A Human Resource Development (HRD) Manager can be described as the person who heads the HR department of the organization. The HR interacts with the organization and acts as its facilitator, but it needs to be organized and has to allocate work among its department and coordinate. Ensuring this is one of the HRD manager’s primary tasks. In addition, the HRD manager performs other tasks, some of which are as below:

Assessing the role and effectiveness of HR department on the organization

Just as a marketing manager does marketing and also allocates tasks and responsibilities to the team that he heads; the HRD manager not only performs higher-level HR functions, but also manages the HR team. The role of the HRD manager has to be seen as one that supervises and directs the HR team.

The HRD manager allocates work to those in the team and ensures its effective implementation on time. The HRD manager is like any other manager in that he has to be aware of his team member’s strengths and weaknesses. He has to know what to allocate to which member of the team and know what to do if the team members are not carrying out their allocated work.

Training and learning for HR staff

Towards making sure that the HR team carries out its work; the HRD manager has to train the staff. This requires a high degree of knowledge and expertise on the part of the HRD manager. This may require implementation of an appropriate learning management system (LMS). Or it could also be on-the-job training for some of the staff members. Either way, the HRD manager has to chalk up a training program and implement it, ensuring results all along. Failure on the part of any HR team member to carry out tasks allotted to them reflects poorly on the HRD manager.

Planning for the HR department

The HRD manager has to also make sure that the team he heads has a fair grasp of the long-term goals and directions of the organization. HR has to always go along with the organization’s pace of growth. The HRD manager has to ensure this. He has to have a clear picture of the organization’s growth path and has to lead his team towards it.

Reference:

http://www.explorehr.org/articles/HR_Planning/Role_of_Human_Resource_Development_Manager.html

 

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Use of psychometric tests by HR

Mature and professional HR in any organization realizes that its most important contribution to the organization is in finding the right people and more importantly, making the organization retain them. People are the most valuable resource in any organization, and nothing is more satisfying for HR than to provide the organization the perfect fit.

Resilience matters more than anything else

So, how does HR size up the “perfect candidate” for any suitable position? Of course, the usual parameters are skill sets, qualifications and experience. But there is something that is of paramount importance, something that is a far better indicator of a person’s suitability than all these, and that is the candidate’s temperament. While qualifications, skills and experience are more obvious, there is no hint in any of these that the candidate has the most important quality the organization looks for –tenacity. This is the defining difference between good and great candidates.

Something like IQ and EQ

We can draw a parallel between this quality and emotional intelligence. In the past, if a person had a good intelligence quotient (IQ), it was considered a hallmark of exceptional ability. But over the years, psychoanalysts came round to the conclusion that intelligence and knowledge in themselves were not a sufficient measure or necessary yardstick of a person’s ability.

They identified one quality that was far superior as a marker of their character, and that was fortitude. This is what is termed as emotional intelligence, or the ability to be intuitive and smart in crunch situations. This requires being able to think on one’s feet and come up with offhand solutions to any unforeseen situation, rather than rely on textbook knowledge, which cannot answer questions beyond a point.

Psychometric tests to gauge the candidate’s ability to withstand pressure

This, in a nutshell, is what smart candidacy is all about. Qualifications and experience do matter, but what is more critical is the ability to solve real-life issues, challenges and difficulties. A good psychometric analysis by HR will help identify these qualities in a candidate.

How does HR do it? One simple method could be to ask tough, or what are called smart questions at the time of the interview. A good candidate may have had a decade’s experience in handling and working on set systems, but the smart candidate is one who has known how to use common sense in resolving challenges. HR could pinpoint and ask for specific situations in which the candidate resolved issues using commonsense rather than application of rote knowledge. It could verify from its sources with the current employer if the claims were true. It could put a number of such posers to the candidate and come to some conclusion about this all-important quality of a great candidate.

Reference:

http://www.1stexecutive.com.au/improve-recruitment-/psych-assessments

 

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The WARN Act

One of the important legislations concerning mass layoffs and closing of plants is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. This Act requires employers to inform their employees beforehand if there is going to be mass layoffs or plant closures. The notice period for informing patients about this proposed action is 60 days.

The WARN Act applies to employers who employ 100 people or more. This act takes the number of employees present in any of the organization’s locations, even if the closure is not happening at all the locations.

The idea of WARN Act is to help employees anticipate an impending layoff and make preparations for facing it. They could think of seeking employment elsewhere or could enhance their skills by enrolling for a short term course in any related area of their work. This would make them better suited candidates when they seek employment next.

Who may be informed?

Employees, irrespective of whether they are permanent or temporary, need to be informed at least sixty days prior to the closure of the unit or the layoffs. The management has to also inform unions and respective local and state governments about the decision.

What situations warrant informing employees?

The following criteria warrant a WARN notice:

  • The business that has more than100 full-time workers: this excludes workers who are a) due to retire in less than six months on the job and b) those who put in lesser than 20 hours per week;
  • It is laying off no fewer 50 people at any single site of its employment at one stroke;
  • It employs at least 100 workers who together put in at least 4,000 hours per week;
  • It applies to businesses which could be either of these: a) a private for-profit business; b) private non-profit organization, or c) a quasi-public entity functioning autonomously from regular government.

Exceptions

The employer is not required to inform striking employees about the decision. The employer is also exempt from informing part-time workers working from outside for the company for a specific project or work or duration. These are employees who are not on the company’s rolls or are working as consultants and are actively working for other organizations too, during this time. Also, if due to unforeseen circumstances, a plant has to close well in advance of the sixty days stated in the Act, the employer is not punishable. In situations where there is an unanticipated event like a natural disaster, the employer is exempt from informing employees.

 

References:

http://www.doleta.gov/layoff/pdf/WorkerWARN2003.pdf

http://www.doleta.gov/layoff/pdf/EmployerWARN09_2003.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker_Adjustment_and_Retraining_Notification_Act

http://topics.hrhero.com/WARN-act-layoff-notice-laws/

 

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The interim manager

The term “interim manager” is not very popular in a few economies. It is common to hear about this in First World economies, but they are relatively rare in emerging economies. So, who is an interim manager, and what does he do?

Why do businesses need interim managers?

As the term indicates, an interim manager is recruited into a business to perform a specific task or project, i.e., to fulfill an interim purpose. The most common reasons for which interim managers are hired are to get a new product line or a new line of business launched or to streamline processes, or to be part of a disaster recovery plan. Many businesses look for interim managers when they feel they need expert guidance for a while, as in the case of examples cited above. These managers are not needed after a point of time. If the management feels that the new product line or line of business is able to stand on its own feet; it can terminate her services, on good terms, of course.

HR has a major role

These kinds of people need to be headhunted by the organization’s HR, because obviously, this is not a position that is general and simple to fill. What does HR look for in an interim manager? The person is almost certainly someone with a proven track record. She should be driven by zeal to do take up challenges rather than being one who is good at taking care of routine tasks. In other words, the interim manager should be someone who is a cut above the ordinary.

An important task for HR is to make the interim manager interested in the job. What interests her the most? Since the person is necessarily someone who is quite senior, the pay is of secondary importance. A greater factor is the hunger for challenge. This is what HR has to use as the bait to take such a manager into the organization.

Give them what they need

These interim managers also need a lot of space. They need to be given complete autonomy of choosing their teams; organizing them and making them function. There has to be some synergy in the wavelengths of the interim manager and the rest of the team. HR has to ensure all these. And yes, many interim managers ask for fresh resources to carry out their tasks. HR should help them to find the right fit for their team. HR thus has a major role to play in shaping the choice of the interim manager; both at the time of selection of the manager as well as helping her achieve her goals for the organization.

Reference:

http://www.1stexecutive.com.au/interim-management/the-interim-manager

http://www.interimmanagement.uk.com/interim-managers/definition-of-an-interim-manager/

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The art of retaining good employees

It has been said time and again by management experts that an organization’s greatest asset is its people. Even technological innovation takes a backseat in terms of importance, because technology is after all created by people.

When it is understood that it is people who make or break organizations, organizations should do everything they can to retain people. Retention of this most important resource should be the greatest priority. But why is it that people still keep leaving organizations? A higher pay may be a factor, but there are other reasons for which they leave.

First, understand

The most important element that HR has to understand is the set of reasons for which people leave organizations. Organizations that are serious about growing should realize why this is so, and should do their best to keep talent. Unfortunately, most top brass of organizations don’t realize this, a fact borne out time and again by authoritative surveys and studies.

The most important factor which makes people, especially the senior ones, seek greener pastures, is that there is nothing left for them to achieve. When the senior employees get this feeling, it is a reflection of bad hiring practice, because it follows that the senior managers were not properly apprised of the requirements for their position, or these requirements changed over time. In either case, it speaks poorly of both management and HR.

Poor handling of resources

It is said that people don’t leave organizations; they leave their managers. This fact sums up the entire situation: people who leave generally act more out of frustration and disgruntlement for their managers than for their organization or job. Management and HR have a crucial role in ensuring that this is not the case, because managers may be important for organizations, but the lower rung is as important. It is they who will hold the organization’s reins in the future. They need to be understood and nurtured. If they leave for reasons such as disappointment with the way they are treated by their seniors, it is time for HR and management to haul the seniors up.

Other factors

While lack of recognition for work done and lack of opportunity for growth are the two most important factors for which people leave, followed by pay; organizations need to look at other factors that make people leave organizations and take steps to correct them. In many organizations, favoritism, partiality and nepotism prevail. In others, poor pay and benefits could be a factor. In some others, strict or rigid working conditions could be the reason for which people leave. In yet others, it could be paucity of transparency by the top management. Any organization’s management that is serious about keeping people should assess where it is lacking. Correcting itself is an imperative if it has to be a competent organization.

References:

http://www.gautamblogs.com/2006/05/10-reasons-why-organizations-are-not.html

http://www.zdnet.com/why-do-good-employees-leave-1139225146/

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